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Kristi Kreuger/WPLG Channel 10 Feature on H&H! May 19, 2011

Horse Therapy Helps Kids With Special Needs

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. — From grooming a beautiful horse to taking one for a morning ride, a day at the barn is so much fun it doesn’t seem like therapy.For decades, Horses and the Handicapped has helped hundreds of kids with special needs improve their muscle strength a mobility through animal therapy.

The therapy, when you look at it as a whole, works on the cognitive side, the physical side and the emotional side,” said Alison Plaza, program director. “Kids come out to the farm, they bond with a beautiful animal that is not going to judge them.

Every week, 104 riders come to saddle up eight horses. The organization has close to 150 people on a waiting list.”Riding helps these kids develop their visual, auditory and tactile skills,” said Plaza. One of the riders, Anthony McLelland, once needed three volunteers to help him ride.“Now I am independent. I can do the walking, the trotting, we go around the practice ring. It’s awesome,” he said. “This is my second home, they make me feel like I belong somewhere in the world.”

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